Center Street circus

If you think brazen sleazeball politics take place only in Washington D.C., attend a Reno City Council meeting. I did. Unlike most other crime scenes, this particular suck-up fest is open to the public. And it’s free, unless you pay taxes, in which case it’s a stomach-churning buzz-killer.

Heavy-duty downtown casino representation was there, of course, to monitor the dog & pony show. After all, somebody had to make sure nothing went wrong. They needn’t have worried. Reno’s beloved mayor went about their business with the eager obedience of a novice at an S & M picnic.

The proceedings, had they not been so dangerous to the future of Reno, would have been outright comical. Griffin and City Mismanager Charles McNeely, along with yespersons Doyle, Hascheff and Aiazzi—talk about a cartoon trifecta—solemnly pretended to pay close attention to proponents of the convoluted Events Center-Bowling Stadium financing scam just as if their decision hadn’t already been made for them.

Everyone else having the temerity to speak at this ostensibly democratic forum was, as expected, ignored by all but two members of the council. Non-anointed citizens were treated with courtesy and respect only by Toni Harsh and Jessica Sferrazza-Hogan, which is just another reason why Griffin & The Griffettes so obviously hate their guts.

The mayor’s boorish ploy to demonstrate his contempt for those who simply don’t count is the noisy, distracting, endless shuffling of a stack of papers (in show business they’re called “props") during the entire time that hapless citizens without significant influence address the council. Griffin never looks at them, nor does he even acknowledge their existence, clearly communicating his lofty indifference to anything any ordinary Renoite might wish to say.

It’s important to remember, however, that such rude, crude behavior never occurs while representatives of the mayor’s benefactors are a-yammering. Nossir.

Listen, I am a guy who places a great deal of value on simple courtesy, as do most civilized people. Standing in that chamber and watching the individual whose job it is to pay attention to all of us coldly insult each and every non-special-interest speaker is a sickening experience.

Speaking of speakers, the only one who had the bal … er, intestinal fortitude to call the mayor on his childish subterfuge was Mike Robinson, himself an announced candidate in the upcoming mayoral election. Robinson pointed out the fact that, despite Griffin’s refusal to face him, Mike was going to have his say, which he did, and with clear, concise logic. That’s why I intend to vote for him.

That particular confrontation aside, council-watching turned out to be a boring, disheartening and somewhat ugly Tuesday experience, but it’s still one you should see for yourself.

I departed City Hall thinking that, Toni Harsh and Jessica Sferrazza-Hogan aside, our current Reno City Council is to honorable government what Fox News is to honorable journalism, and if what I had just seen was democracy, then falling off a roof is transportation.